SECRET RECIPE CLUB: CHOC-ORANGE MINI CAKES & A BONUS RECIPE

13082596_1327954120553739_3054889855668038106_n(Reprinted with permission from Adrienne Hedger)

And here we are landing firmly in the month of May. This year is flying by, if you ask me… First Monday of the month means fun. It is Reveal Day for The Secret Recipe Club, that event in which bloggers are paired in secret and cook a recipe from their assigned site.  This month I got a food blog that was new to me: Chit Chat Chomp, hosted by Leigh, who blogs from Melbourne, a place I would love to visit one day. Leigh’s site is a thing of beauty, very stylish, elegant, amazing photos, and great prose. Basically, a must-read food blog!  She summarizes her approach to cooking in a delightful way:

Recipes inspired by my travels through France, adapted for everyday simplicity and filled to the brim with nutrition.  Mostly gluten and refined sugar-free, my recipes lean towards food that inspires, heals and nourishes, but above all else, it’s fresh, organic and simple.

Recipes inspired by my travels through France… She’s got my full attention!  In fact, she describes herself as a lover of all things French. You can imagine the smile I opened when I read that line, right?  I spent quite a bit of time stalking her blog, but jumped on a recipe right away for a reason I will classify as “The Swedish Effect.” Small parenthesis is needed.  We have an undergraduate student from Sweden in our lab called Olivia. She happened to mention that April 15th was her “name day” back home.  I was puzzled, but then learned that in Sweden each day of the year is associated with a particular name, as you can see in this site. April 15th is the name day for Olivia (girls) and Oliver (boys). Olivia said that her Grandma always gave her a nice card on that day to celebrate the occasion. So, I thought it would be cool to bake something starting with the letter O and bring to the lab on that day. Orange-Chocolate mini-cakes seemed perfect! Obviously, I jumped on the recipe with no hesitation whatsoever. But, my decision had a small problem associated with it, which led me to make a second recipe for today’s reveal. Read on…

Choc Orange Mini Cakes
ORANGE-CHOC MINI CAKES
(from Chit Chat Chomp)

Makes 6 mini-cakes

1 orange
1 cup almond meal
1 tsp baking powder
2 large eggs
1 Tbsp raw cacao powder
1 Tbsp rice malt syrup or raw honey
handful of raw cacao nibs
handful of sunflower seeds (I omitted for lack of sunflower seeds)

Heat oven to 320 F and line a mini cupcake pan with 8 cupcake papers

Place the orange in a pot and cover with water. Bring to the boil then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 1 hour. Allow to cool.

Chop the cooked orange into chunks and place in a blender and blitz until smooth. Add all other ingredients (except cacao nibs and sunflower seeds) to the blender and pulse until combined.

Divide the batter between your cupcake papers, filling close to the top as they will not rise by much, and top with the cacao nibs and sunflower seeds. Pop into the oven for approximately 30 to 40 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted in the middle.

ENJOY!

to print the mini-cake recipe, click here

orangecakecomp
Comments: As Leigh mentioned, the only tricky part of this recipe is to boil the orange. Tricky in the sense that you need to dedicate one hour for that step. Essentially hands-free, though. The smell in the kitchen as the orange simmers…. wonderful!  Once the orange is ready and cooled down, the batter will be ready in minutes. Now, let’s talk about the “small problem.”  The recipe made six cupcakes, enough for each of our lab members to enjoy, but Phil and I could not have any. In short, I made a recipe for The Secret Recipe Club, but never got to taste it. I had only one way to restore my dignity as a blogger: choose a second recipe from Chit Chat Chomp, and make it too… and that’s what I did, so today you get two recipes instead of one. How’s that for problem solving?

Without further ado… my bonus recipe from Leigh’s great blog:

Veggie Bread

VEGGIE BREAD
(from Chit Chat Chomp)

1 + 1/2 cup almond meal
3/4 cups arrowroot flour
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
5 eggs
1 + 1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 large zucchini, grated
1 large carrot, grated
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons pepitas.

Heat the oven to 325 F and line a standard loaf pan with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, mix together the almond meal, arrowroot, salt and baking soda. In a separate bowl whisk the eggs lightly with the apple cider vinegar. Add zucchini, carrot and cheese and mix well.

Add the egg mix to the dry ingredients. Mix to combine. Pour the dough into the prepared loaf tin and sprinkle with pepitas.

Bake for 35-40 minutes or until the top starts turning golden and a skewer comes out clean. Remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack. Allow to cool for five minutes before cutting into slices.

ENJOY!

to print the Veggie Bread recipe, click here

veggiecomposite

Comments: We loved this bread! It is obviously gluten-free, no regular flour, but the texture reminded me of quick breads, except that this had considerable more moisture. Not too dense like some gluten-free breads turn out.  Leigh said it freezes well, but we did not get to test that, in three days it was gone. I enjoyed a slice at lunchtime, and was surprised that Phil did that too, he prefers his bread to be loaded with gluten. This one had so much flavor that the lack of wheat flour was not a big deal.  Once it sits in the fridge for a while, the best way to bring it back to life is toasting it…  paired with juicy tomatoes, it was out of this world delicious!

toasted

I wanted to try to make croutons out of it.  Not sautéed because I am afraid they would crumble, it is a very delicate bread. But maybe spraying the croutons with coconut or olive oil then toasting them in the oven. I bet they would turn out amazing on a kicked-up version of Caesar salad, or over a massaged kale concoction. Definitely a bread to play with.

I must say it was not easy to decide on which recipe to make as the bonus.  I really wanted to make her Savoury Muffins, not only because the recipe enticed me, but for the write-up about it. You gotta go and read it… it has to do with France…   And, if the weather was a little more appropriate, I would love a bowl of her luscious Carrot Soup… Another heavy contender was the Zucchini Noodle with Kale Pesto, which is pretty much my favorite type of meal these days.

Leigh, I loved getting your blog as my assignment this month, and feel sorry I could not taste those cute mini-cupcakes… Thinking back, I should have made a double batch, but I only thought about it after they were all baked and I had no time to boil another orange and start over. It was getting close to bedtime then… oh, well. Such is life!

Please make sure to click on the blue frog sitting patiently at the end of this post, so you can marvel at the posts that my virtual friends from Group A made for their assignments.

Adrienne, thank you again for allowing me to share your cartoon on the blog!
I love your work!

ONE YEAR AGO: In My Kitchen, May 2015

TWO YEARS AGO: P90X3, a Review of Tony Horton’s Latest Fitness Program 

THREE YEARS AGO: Pasta and Mussels in Saffron Broth

FOUR YEARS AGO: Triple Chocolate Brownies

FIVE YEARS AGO: Shanghai Soup Dumplings

SIX YEARS AGO: Bite-sized Chocolate Pleasure

WALNUT-RAISIN BRAN MUFFINS

Every single time I type raisin it comes as raising instead. Pumpkin more often than not becomes pumpking. You could assume I have issues with words that end with “in”, but when sous-vide first gets written as sous-vice, and kitchen turns to chicken that hypothesis falls flat on its face. Oh, well. The mind works in mysterious ways. Even more mysterious, though, is what constitutes the perfect bran muffin as far as my beloved is concerned.  It’s been a while since I baked a batch, so it’s time to share my latest attempt at reaching his Bran Muffin Nirvana. Keep in mind that they have to be big, very bran-y, and loaded with nuts and raisins. I adapted a very popular recipe from Heidi Swanson and surprised Phil one early Sunday morning with six jumbo-sized muffins. Just a side benefit of waking up full of energy at 4:30am…

Bran Muffin

 

BRAN MUFFINS WITH WALNUTS AND RAISINS
(adapted from Heidi Swanson’s recipe)

1 cup bran flake cereal
12 ounces full-fat yogurt
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup wheat germ
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons sugar
2 large eggs
4 tablespoons honey
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup diced walnuts, slightly toasted

Heat the oven to 400, and line 6 cups of a jumbo muffin pan with paper liners or grease them with butter.

In a small bowl, combine the cereal, yogurt and melted butter. Stir together very well, and let the cereal soak while you work with the dry ingredients. Whisk together the flours, wheat germ, baking soda, baking powder, salt and sugar.

Stir the eggs and honey into the bowl with the bran cereal, then stir in the dry ingredients. Gently add the raisins and walnuts. Divide the batter between the muffin cups and bake for about 22 minutes. Let the muffins cool in the pan for a couple of minutes, then move them to a wire rack to cool completely.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

muffincomp

Comments: Amazing what almost seven years of blogging can do. I knew I had bran muffins on the site, but was shocked to see that this is my sixth recipe for this delicacy. What can I say? They are Phil’s favorite kind and my goal from the start was to bake the bran muffin of his dreams. Did I get there?  The asymptotic curve is getting closer to the top, I am told. The resident critic thought the amount of walnuts and raising raisins were spot on. The size was adequate. The texture got a nod of approval too. So, what’s the improvement needed? More bran. Not bran-y enough. Some people demand “more cowbell“, others demand more bran.  The quest for perfection is still on. But, in a way it’s  nice to have something to strive for…

muffin crumb

I wonder if Christopher Walken would also request a little more bran?

😉

ONE YEAR AGO: A Star is Born!

TWO YEARS AGO: Chestnut Flour Sourdough Bread

THREE YEARS AGO: Kinpira Gobo and Japanese Home Cooking

FOUR YEARS AGO: Walnut Sourdough

FIVE YEARS AGO: Thai Chicken Curry

SIX YEARS AGO: Zen and the art of risotto

FINE TUNING THOMAS KELLER

If you are interested in  sous-vide cooking,  chances are you either own or have heard of the book Under Pressure: Cooking Sous-vide,  by Thomas Keller (a dear friend gave me a copy, am I lucky or what?). When it comes to sous-vide, the outcome is all about the combination of temperature and time in the water bath, and Keller’s book is an amazing source of information to get you going.  I have already shared in the blog a few recipes for chicken thighs sous-vide that relied on the temperature that Thomas Keller recommends,  around 150 F. They turned out delicious, with homogeneously cooked meat, and good flavor. But they lacked a quality I happen to love in this type of meat: the falling off the bone tenderness. I browsed around cooking forums, but found no specific advice to help me out. Then I stumbled more or less by accident into this article and decided to re-visit the issue. Basically, the article states that a temperature of 150 F  will produce very juicy chicken, but with a firm texture. If you increase the temperature to 165 F, your outcome will depend on the time of cooking, going from tender (1 to 4 hours) to “falling off the bone tender” (4 to 8 hours).  I decided to try  the combination of 168 F for 5 hours. Results? Oh Em Gee perfection! Exactly what I’ve been hoping for.  You should have seen me doing the Happy Chicken Thigh Dance. Wait, maybe not.  Some things are better staying in the privacy of a home. So, with apologies to Mr. Keller, I dare say that I prefer my tweaked version, a drastic departure from his. If you don’t own a sous-vide gadget, no need to worry, I give you the specifics to make it in a regular oven too.

Chicken Thighs Sous-vide

 

ORANGE-SOY CHICKEN THIGHS
(sous-vide or regular oven)
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

8 chicken thighs
1/2 cup soy sauce (or coconut aminos)
zest and juice of a large orange
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon agave nectar
2 tsp lime juice
1 tsp grated ginger
salt and black pepper to taste

Make a marinade whisking well all the ingredients.  Add the pieces of chicken to a large bag, pour the marinade over and let it sit in the fridge for a few hours, or at room temperature for 30 minutes.

If cooking sous-vide:
Remove the chicken from the marinade (save the marinade in the fridge), vacuum-seal four pieces in each of two bags. Place the bags in a water-bath set to 168 F for 5 hours. Close to the end of cooking time, place the reserved marinade in a small pan and cook it over medium-high heat for a few minutes to reduce it slightly. Remove the chicken pieces from the bag, place over a roasting pan, and brush the skin with the reduced marinade. Add a little more salt if you like. Place the pieces under the broiler and roast until dark and crispy.

If cooking in a regular oven:
Place the chicken pieces skin down in a roasting pan with enough marinade all over to keep them moist during roasting.  Season lightly with more salt if you like (we do). Cover with aluminum foil and roast at 325 F for 1 hour.  Remove the foil, turn the pieces over and finish roasting at 425F until the skin is crispy.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

 

tender

 

Comments: What I like the most about sous-vide cooking is how forgiving it is in terms of timing. Take this recipe, for instance, if you set it up at lunch time but do not expect to be home until 6 hours later, no problem. One hour more, two hours more won’t affect the outcome.  Some say that the crock pot behaves the same way, but I don’t think so. Poultry can develop a sort of chalky texture when sitting in a slow-cooker past a certain point.

We enjoyed the chicken thighs with the salad I blogged about not too long ago. I simply do not get tired of it, it is perfect!  If you haven’t yet tried the combination of roasted carrots with avocados, don’t wait for too long…

ONE YEAR AGO: Cauliflower Tortillas

TWO YEARS AGO: Majestic Sedona, Take Two

THREE YEARS AGO: Secret Ingredient Turkey Meatballs

FOUR YEARS AGO: Swedish Meatballs and Egg Noodles

FIVE YEARS AGO: Italian Easter Pie

SIX YEARS AGO: Black Olive Bialy

 

A RETRO DESSERT

A couple of days before Easter we still had no idea what to make for our dinner, all we knew is that we would be cooking something together. We ended up with two recipes that are already in the blog: a rack of lamb with cranberry reduction sauce, and a mushroom soufflé.  We rarely make dessert for just the two of us, so at first we considered skipping it altogether. Then Phil mentioned that there was one particular dessert he had only enjoyed a few times, always in restaurants and maybe I could try and make it for us. He added “it may be a bit involved, though.”  Visions of a six-layer coconut cake flashed in my  imagination, but he definitely had something quite unexpected in mind: Baked Alaska!  My gosh, the last time I had it I was a teenager in Brazil, so that’s a little more than five years ago (wink, wink)…  We had this conversation 24 hours before Easter dinner, so I felt a rush of adrenaline pumping in my veins, and went to work. By work I mean “furiously googling.” I found the perfect recipe in a blog called “Dessert for Two.” How appropriate! It’s a great blog, by the way, make sure to visit… It goes without saying that Baked Alaska doesn’t keep very well, so making a small batch just for the occasion was a must. This was super fun to make and I must say one of the most delicious sweets made in our kitchen. You could of course double or triple the recipe, keeping the amount of meringue unchanged (it made more than needed for two small servings).

Baked Alaska2

INDIVIDUAL BAKED ALASKAS
(from Dessert for Two)

for the cake base:
2 tablespoons + 1 1/2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon cornstarch
2 tablespoons + 1 1/2 teaspoons granulated sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 tablespoon + 1 1/2 teaspoons milk
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 teaspoon almond extract

for assembling the Alaskas:
1 pint ice cream of your choice
3 egg whites
1/3 cup granulated sugar

Heat the oven to 350 F.

Use a 9 x 5″ metal bread loaf pan for this recipe; it needs to have sharp corners. Do not use ceramic bakeware with rounded corners. Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper. Trim it very well to fit perfectly. Do not grease the pan in any way.

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and cornstarch twice.

In a separate bowl, combine the granulated sugar and egg. Beat on high-speed until it reaches the consistency of soft whipped cream. This can take anywhere from 5-8 minutes. It will be fluffy and pale yellow with soft, floppy peaks. Melt the butter and milk together in the microwave. Stir in the almond extract

Fold one-third of the flour mixture into the eggs. Take your time and do this carefully until all of the flour mixture is incorporated, adding 1/3 of the flour mixture at a time. Finally, stir in the hot milk and butter mixture all at once and fold in well. Pour the batter into the pan, and bake for 10-12 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Remove the pan from the oven, and let cool for 10 minutes. Then, run a knife along the edges of the pan and invert the cake carefully onto a cooling rack. Gently peel the parchment paper off, but if any more than a thin layer of cake sticks to it, let it cool completely before pulling it off. You can make the sponge cake the day before.

Scoop two perfect spheres of the sorbet by using an ice cream scoop. Level off the surface of the sorbet with the scoop to make a flat bottom.  Move the sorbet scoops to cupcake liners (or parchment paper) and freeze until very firm.

To assemble, use the edges of your ice cream scoop to cut out perfect-sized rounds of sponge cake. Top each cake round with one of the sorbet scoops. Place back in the freezer. Next, whip the egg whites in a medium bowl on high-speed until soft peaks start to form. Stream in the sugar and beat until combined. Don’t beat the egg whites past the point of soft peaks.  When ready to serve, pipe the egg whites (or use a spoon) over the sorbet mounds. Use a fork to make ridges in the egg whites.

Using a culinary torch, brûlée the egg whites and serve the dessert immediately.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

compositealaska

Comments:  I never imagined I would re-visit a cake that is pretty much like a genoise, my nemesis. And, to make matters worse, this one was baked in a tiny loaf pan. But, I must say it all went flawlessly, which worries me a little. Next time I bake a cake, I will pay my dues to the universe, obviously.  I wish I had more pictures of the whole process, including the drawing of circles in parchment paper to cut the base, but things were a bit frantic as they always are when I’m around cake batter.

When I make these again (and I definitely will), I might omit or reduce the almond extract because I felt it was too prominent in the final cake. However it is quite possible that the smell of the extract was too vivid in my mind. It is so potent! Phil did not feel the same way at all, he thought the cake was perfect. Still, I would like to try a little bit of Fiori di Sicilia instead of almond just for a change. As to the ice cream component, I went with two different flavors that we shared: the first Alaska made with Dulce de Leche because to me that is the flavor numero uno in the known universe. And the second one was White Chocolate-Raspberry-Truffle. I know. Your knees just got a bit weak, right? Mine too…

closeup
The contrast of slightly warm and toasted meringue, cold ice cream, with the base of the cake is a complete feast, perfect way to end a romantic meal, if you ask me.  Plus, it is a reasonably small portion that will not make you sit down at the sofa, tilt your head back and start snoring, possibly drooling. Nope.  The rest of your evening will be safe…

Baked Alaska

ONE YEAR AGO: Cauliflower Tortillas: Going low-carb and loving it!

TWO YEARS AGO: Clementines in Cinnamon Syrup

THREE YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen, April 2013 

FOUR YEARS AGO: Thrilling Moments (CROISSANTS!)

FIVE YEARS AGO: Maple-Oatmeal Sourdough Bread

SIX YEARS AGO: Pork Trinity: coffee, mushrooms, and curry

 

 

CASHEW CREAM SAUCE

You know how every single Paleo-lover food blogger goes on and on about the wonders of cashew cream and how it will replace melted cheese in a way you won’t believe until you try it?  Well, those statements always put me into eye-rolling mode. I cannot help but mentally associate cashew cream sauce with those gluten-free donuts that look like sawdust shaped into rounds and make me want to run away screaming.  Of course, I have the utmost respect for those with non-imaginary gluten allergies. But I doubt they would like those donuts. In some cases, if you cannot have the real thing, better skip it altogether.  But, back to the cashew cream.  I am here to say I was absolutely wrong in my assessment. The stuff is awesome. Awesome. I made it, and could not stop sampling a little teaspoon here and there, I drizzled it over everything. Then, when I considered dunking a chocolate cookie into it, Phil pointed out that maybe I was getting a bit carried away. Fine. My next batch will be divided in two, and one of them will have coconut sugar in it. Or maybe maple syrup. And I shall dunk a cookie into it. You better believe it. Whatever your take on Paleo nutrition, open your gastronomic horizons, and made this sauce.

Cashew Cream

CASHEW CREAM SAUCE
(adapted from many sources)

1 cup raw cashews
Water
1 teaspoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

Place raw cashews in a bowl and add cold water to cover by 1 inch. Soak cashews at room temperate for 8  to 24 hours. Drain and rinse  very well.

Add drained nuts to a powerful blender with 3/4 cup cold water, the lemon juice and apple cider vinegar. Process until very smooth, about 2 minutes, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Adjust consistency with extra water if you like. Season with salt, pepper, and extra lemon juice to taste.  Sauce will keep in the fridge for a few days, and it can also be frozen.

ENJOY!  (I know you will…)

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: What can I say?  I regret it took me so long to finally try this recipe. If I have one criticism about it is that cashews can be pricey, but if that was not the case, I would make it regularly.  I can now understand why so many people make fake Alfredo sauce with it. You can find quite a few variations online, some add nutritional yeast to take it on a slightly more “cheesy” path, but I decided to keep it simple. Basically you must soak the cashews for a few hours, discard the water. Process with a slightly acidic ingredient, sometimes a little olive oil is also added, season with salt and you are done. Variations with sugar can be used to drizzle over fresh fruit, and I’m dying to try that soon. For the moment though, I leave you with a photo of a recent lunch which was enjoyed three days in a row. Ground chicken sautéed with mushrooms, green curry paste, garam masala, and ginger. Spooned over butter lettuce leaves. And topped with this magical sauce…

Lettuce Cups

 Cashew Cream Sauce…. It’s been a  pleasure to meet you! 

ONE YEAR AGO: Blood Orange Margaritas

TWO YEARS AGO: Smoked Salmon Appetizer

THREE YEARS AGO: Clementine Cake

FOUR YEARS AGO: Springtime Spinach Risotto

FIVE YEARS AGO: The end of green bean cruelty

SIX YEARS AGO: Torta di Limone e Mandorle

TURKEY PORTOBELLO BURGER

This will be a bit embarrassing. I’ve made this recipe four times since December, a pretty strong endorsement as I tend to follow the “cook and move on” mode.  Last week I wanted to make it again, so I did a quick search on the blog but came up empty-handed. Puzzled, I went to the index page, and it wasn’t there either.  I concluded I failed to add it to the index page and also did not tag it with the appropriate search words. But then a troubling thought hit me: what if… what if… I simply forgot to blog about it?  Could it be possible?  Only one way to find out. I went to my computer and almost fell off my chair: the pictures were all there, but straight from the camera, never optimized for publication!  Yours truly is officially losing it, but she’s not alone: John from The Bartolini Kitchens  recently had the exact same thing happen to him. We are now virtual siblings, and that makes me happy. So, before I forget everything about ground turkey, mushrooms, and burgers, allow me to share a great recipe that is now part of our regular rotation.

Turkey Portobello Burger

TURKEY PORTOBELLO BURGER
(slightly modified from FoodTV Network)

1 large Portobello mushroom cap
1 tablespoon coarsely chopped shallot
3 tablespoons lightly packed fresh parsley
1 1/4 pounds ground turkey
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
zest and juice of 1/2 lime
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
cheese slices (optional)

Use a spoon to scrape out the gills from the underside of the mushroom cap. Cut the cap into 1-inch pieces and transfer to a food processor. Add the shallot and parsley and pulse until chopped.

Transfer the mushroom mixture to a large bowl. Add the turkey, olive oil, Worcestershire sauce, lime zest, 1 teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste; gently mix with your hands until just combined. Squeeze lime juice all over and mix very gently. Divide into 4 balls, then lightly press into 1-inch-thick patties. Put on a large plate, cover and refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes.

Heat a grill to medium. Brush the grates with olive oil. Grill the patties, undisturbed, until marked on the bottom, 4 to 5 minutes. Give the patties a quarter turn and cook until marked again, 4 to 5 more minutes. Flip the patties and grill until cooked through, 6 to 7 more minutes; and if you’d like top each with 2 slices cheese during the last 3 minutes of cooking.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

patties

Comments: As everybody knows, the problem with turkey burgers is that they can be too bland and dry. Who wants that, right? You can deal with the issue in many ways, in fact I have several recipes in the blog with a juicy outcome. But it’s hard to resist a recipe with the title “Perfect Turkey Burger” although I’m usually skeptical of this type of hype. What I love about this recipe is the depth of flavor given by the Portobello mushroom.  My only modification was to add some zest and lime juice because the citric flavor goes well with the burger. Plus, it gives the meat just a little more moisture.  I have made it without resting the patties in the fridge – they are a tad fragile, but if you are gentle, it works.  I imagine you could make them early in the morning and leave in the fridge the whole day, if that suits your schedule.

Turkey burgers are on our menu at least twice a month, and although I am always looking for different takes on it, it’s been hard to move away from this recipe. I say why change a winning team?

ONE YEAR AGO: Raspberry Ricotta Cake

TWO YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen, April 2014

THREE YEARS AGO: Whole-Wheat Pasta with Lemony Tomatoes and Spinach

FOUR YEARS AGO: Blood Orange Duck: A work in progress

FIVE YEARS AGO: Grilled Mahi-mahi with citrus marinade

SIX YEARS AGO: Memories of Pastéis (and my Dad)

 

SECRET RECIPE CLUB: CHICKEN KORMA & A BONUS RECIPE

Another month begins, a favorite of mine because April means winter is OVER! I survived another  meteorological ordeal, and must confess it wasn’t that bad. HA!  Am I getting tougher or what?  The first Monday of the month brings Reveal Day of Group A from The Secret Recipe Club, so here I am to divulge which blog was my assignment.  Drum roll, please…. I got the amazing Thyme for Cooking blog, hosted by Katie.  Now, for a shocking statement: I would cook ANY of her recipes, each and every one appealed to me. She is one eclectic cook, having lived in several countries (Ireland, Andorra & France), but not only that, her writing captivates you.  I opened a huge smile when I read her About page, and stumbled on this simple paragraph:

From learning about French paperwork (exhausting) to French chickens (of course they come with feet, Duh!) it’s a constant, often / usually entertaining challenge.

Well, I love France, don’t even think I don’t. But until you face the convoluted French bureaucracy, you’ll know nothing about paperwork hell. Unless of course, you’ve lived in Brazil… Those two beautiful countries could compete to see which bureaucracy would drive a foreigner crazy first. I have a tough time deciding the “winner.”  But, I digress… Her site kept me glued to the computer for many hours on many evenings. I blamed it for preventing me from sitting down with Phil to watch the news. “Are you coming, Sally?”  “I can’t… I can’t…  I have Thyme for Cooking, so No Thyme for News.”  Just to give you an idea of her level of sophistication, she’s got 9 recipes for cornish hens.  Nine. I almost lost my mind trying to decide what to cook, here is a very short list: Ham, Spinach and Avocado Clafoutis…. Shrimp and Spinach Pie...  Chicken with Chickpeas and Preserved Lemon….  Zucchini-Courgette Gratin... Chicken with Tarragon Cream…  Slow-cooker Coq au Vin...  (almost made it for this reveal day, as I also got a slow-cooker recently).  And so many more, I simply had to stop bookmarking them. I had no choice but to make two, one savory, one sweet.  For savory I went with her Chicken Korma, and for dessert (well, not quite, I made it one week later), her Absolute Best Brownies.

Chicken Korma3

CHICKEN KORMA WITH APRICOTS AND ALMONDS
(slightly adapted from Thyme for Cooking)

3 chicken breasts, boneless, skinless, cut into slices 3 pieces
1/2 cup ground almonds
1 shallot, chopped
1 piece of ginger, about 1/2 inch long, finely minced
1 tbs olive oil
2 bay leaves
5 cardamom pods
4 whole cloves
1 inch of a cinnamon stick
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp tomato paste
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
3oz (90gr) dried apricots, cut in half
1/2 cup  chicken stock

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add bay leaves, cloves, cardamom, cinnamon and stir-fry 10 seconds. Add shallot and fry until tender and starting to brown. Reduce heat to medium, add ginger, cumin, coriander and stir-fry 2 minutes longer. Add tomato paste and stir well to combine.

Add chicken pieces, ground almonds, chicken stock and heat to simmering. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Add yogurt to chicken and stir well to combine. Add apricots, cover and simmer for 10 minutes longer.

Serve over white rice.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

kormacomposite

Comments: We loved this recipe! The magical ingredient is definitely cardamon. Every time I open the bottle of cardamon pods I get mesmerized by the smell. The delicate taste they impair to any dish, savory or sweet, is hard to beat. The ground almonds (or almond meal, depending on what is available to you) give the sauce extra body and make it feel substantial and filling. Finally, the apricots bring the bit of sweetness and a pleasant chewy texture. Three chicken breasts were enough for our dinner and lunch a couple of days later. I should add that the sauce was even more flavorful the second time around, although the texture of the meat was better right after cooking.  Overall, this korma is not spicy, just very aromatic.  We enjoyed it over white rice with snap peas alongside. Delicious dinner!

served

Just make sure you don’t bite into the cloves! Find them and put them aside…

And now, for the bonus recipe: 

 

Brownies Glazed

ABSOLUTE BEST BROWNIES
(from Thyme for Cooking)

for the brownie:
6 tbs butter, plus a bit more for the pan
8oz dark chocolate, in chunks
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs, room temperature
1/4 cup flour
1 cup walnuts, chopped

for the glaze:
4oz (120gr) dark chocolate, in chunks
1/2 cup heavy cream

Heat the oven to 350°F (175°C).
Line the inside of an 8-inch square pan with 2 lengths of foil, laying them perpendicular to each other and folding the edges over to form handles. Lightly butter the foil.

In a medium saucepan melt the butter over low heat, add the chocolate. Stir constantly until melted.
Remove pan from heat, add sugar, vanilla and stir well. Add eggs and beat well with a medium-size wooden spoon.
Add the flour and beat vigorously for 1 1/2 – 2 minutes. Better should be shiny and smooth. Stir in the nuts, and pour the batter into the pan.

Bake for 30 minutes. The center should be almost set. Do not over-bake. Cool brownies completely in the pan. As the brownie cools, make the glaze by heating the cream in a small saucepan over low heat. Add the chocolate and stir until just melted.

Lift the brownies out of the pan and loosen the foil on the sides and bottom. Transfer to a plate. Pour the glaze over the top and smooth to the edges. When the glaze is cool, cut into small squares and serve.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

compositebrownie

Comments: You will find this to be a very popular recipe (original from David Lebovitz). Many bloggers have made it, not always successfully, in the sense that for some these did not turn out as “absolute best.”  Well, it is all in the technique. For this recipe to work its magic you absolutely MUST beat the batter for at least a full minute, probably two minutes is better.  I considered adding the batter to a KitchenAid but ended up beating by hand. Good workout for the right arm, I can tell you that…  The brownies turned out great, I think the walnuts worked perfectly well with the chocolate, but if you do a google search you’ll find that the basic recipe can be adapted to all sorts of add-ons, one that seems quite popular is mint.  Just crush some mint candy and add to the batter after you beat it into submission. I took the brownies to our department on a foggy and a bit chilly Monday morning. They made many colleagues forget the Monday blues.

Katie, I will be a faithful follower of your blog, and hope you had as much joy with your assignment this month as I had with mine… 

For my readers, make sure to click on the blue extra-terrestrial looking frog at the end of this post, so you can marvel at the productions of my fellow secret recipe friends.

ONE YEAR AGO: Josey Baker’s Olive Bread

TWO YEARS AGO: Almonds, A Cookbook Review

THREE  YEAR AGO: Pomegranate-Molasses Glazed Carrots

FOUR YEARS AGO: Codruta’s Rolled Oat Sourdough Bread

FIVE YEARS AGO: Roasted Corn and Tomato Risotto

SIX YEARS AGO: Light Rye Bread